Uses

Toxic parts

Skin contact with the sap can cause photosensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people[1][2][3]. Parsnip is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine[3].

Edible uses

Notes

Root - raw or cooked[4][5][6][7][8][9]. When well grown, the cooked root has a very tender texture, though it is rather chewy raw[K]. It is best harvested after there have been some autumn frosts because it will have developed a sweeter flavour[10]. The root is delicious baked, it can also be used in soups etc and can be added to cakes, pies and puddings[9].

Leaves and young shoots - cooked with other greens as a vegetable or added to soups etc[7][9]. Used in early spring[7].

The seed is used as a condiment[7]. Similar in taste to dill[9].

Unknown part

Leaves

Material uses

The leaves and roots are used to make an insect spray[11]. Roughly chop the leaves and roots, put them in a basin with enough water to cover, leave them overnight then strain and use as an insecticide against aphids and red spider mite[12].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of women's complaints[13]. A poultice of the roots has been applied to inflammations and sores[13]. The root contains xanthotoxin, which is used in the treatment of psoriasis and vitiligo[13]. Xanthotoxin is the substance that causes photosensitivity (see note above on toxicity)[13].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - sow from late winter to late spring in situ. Seed can be slow to germinate, especially from the earlier sowings[14], it is best to mark the rows by sowing a few radishes with the parsnips. The seed has a short viability, very few will still be viable 15 months after harvesting[14].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Pastinaca sativa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.

 

 

Cultivation

Succeeds in most ordinary well-drained soils[15]. Requires an open situation[16]. Prefers a deep rich soil that is not too stiff[17].

The parsnip is often cultivated in the temperate zone for its edible root, there are a number of named varieties[18][9][14]. Normally cultivated as a winter root crop, some cultivars are faster to mature and can be available in late summer[14]. The roots are very frost hardy and can be left in the ground to be harvested as required, though they can also be lifted in the autumn and stored for a few months[14]. The flowers are very attractive to hover flies and predatory wasps[12]. Plants have very few insect pests, though they are sometimes attacked by carrot root fly[12]. Growing onions with the parsnips can reduce the damage[12].

Roots of the wild form can quite quickly be increased in size by selective breeding and good cultivation, it is possible to obtain good sized roots in only 6 years.

Additional information for Parsnip